Twentyman: This 1-0 record feels a little different than one year ago

Posted Sep 9, 2013

Despite also winning on opening day in 2012, the Lions have to feel much better about yesterday's win and this year's 1-0 record

For the second year in a row, the Lions turned in an opening day win at home. They have to feel pretty good about themselves.

But doesn't this Monday feel a little bit different? Didn't Sunday's win feel different?

Last year, the Lions needed a 5-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to Kevin Smith with 15 seconds left in the game to secure a come-from-behind, 27-23, victory over a St. Louis team that was coming off a 2-14 season the previous year.

This time around, the Lions played with a lead in the fourth quarter and had their opponent on the ropes.

The Lions had a few miscues early on Sunday vs. Minnesota, but by the time the fourth quarter rolled around, it was pretty evident who the better football team was.

The offense moved the ball at will (nearly 500 total yards) and the defense forced four turnovers and bottled up Vikings running back Adrian Peterson after a 78-yard touchdown run on his first carry of the game.

In fact, the defense held the reigning MVP to just 15 yards on his next 17 carries. Peterson became the first player since Corey Dillon is 2000 to have a 75-plus run, at least 15 attempts and finish a game under 100 yards rushing.

Coincidentally, that Dillon game came against Tennessee when Jim Schwartz was the linebackers coach and Jim Washburn the defensive line coach.

There's just a different feel this time around looking at a team that made it's fair share of mistakes and still beat a division opponent that had 10 wins last year and made the playoffs.

"There's a lot of positives in this game, we were resilient, we played hard, we played physical and we went out and beat a playoff team at home in the opener," Schwartz said after the game. "And I'm not going to apologize for anything this team did."

In last year's win over St. Louis, Matthew Stafford threw three interceptions, including a pick-six to Cortland Finnegan. His quarterback rating was 69.4.

Fast forward one year and Stafford had the second-best opening day performance by a Lions quarterback with 357 yards and a quarterback rating of 96.8. He had two touchdowns, and nearly two more, but Calvin Johnson couldn't finish "the process of the catch" on the first one and couldn't get his second foot down on another.

The one interception Stafford threw was a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage.

There were certainly mistakes the Lions have to clean up moving forward. They again had too many penalties (11), one of which negated a defensive touchdown in the second quarter.

There was a special teams gaffe when Sam Martin dropped the snap on a field goal attempt. Louis Delmas had an unnecessary taunting penalty late in the second quarter.

But the Lions won despite their mistakes, and looked fairly dominant doing it.

Running back Reggie Bush and his 191 total yards vs. the Vikings illustrates the weapon the Lions offense so desperately needed last year.

Defensive tackle Nick Fairley and his 1.5 sacks, fumble recovery and five tackles illustrates the compliment to Ndamukong Suh last year's defense needed upfront.

The only thing that ultimately matters is winning or losing the game, but the Lions have to feel much better about their 1-0 record this Monday than they did 365 days ago.